February 13, 2024 | Irish Independent

Aoife Gallagher on what to do when coming across sensationalist headlines, “especially” immigration ones

ISD Senior Analyst Aoife Gallagher spoke to the Irish Independent about the circulation of an image of a doctored news headline claiming that an old office building in Co Galway (County Galway on Ireland’s West Seaboard) was to be used to house asylum seekers. The post received many comments advocating for targeting the building with arson. Aoife explained how this is a common tactic meant to exploit people’s mistrust for mainstream news sources while backing up polarising narratives. “A common tactic, and one that has been used for years by disinformation actors, is photoshopping news headlines from traditional media outlets to push a false claim. This is effective as it exploits people’s trust in mainstream news sources, making the falsehood more believable to those who see it,” she said.

She advised the public to take an extra step when coming across attention-grabbing posts like these. “I would encourage the public to be extremely vigilant of information they are seeing online, especially that which is related to immigration,” she said. “If you come across a screenshot, such as the fake Galway Beo article, Google the headline to see if the article is real or not. Always stop and think before sharing and check the source of the information to assess whether it is credible or not.”